Ford winning in PHEV market share over Toyota and GM, but has lower ratio of electric miles driven

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi
Ford today released some sales figures for the Ford C-MAX Energi and Ford Fusion Energi demonstrating that their plan to win market share from Toyota and Honda, in California, is beginning to work.  Taken together, Ford’s two Plug-in Hybrid’s have 34% market-share, beating both the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Chevy Volt for October 2013 sales.

I wrote up the sales boasting part of Ford’s press release over on (linked above) – but there was a bit at the end that I found interesting.  It has to do with the ratio of electric miles driven.

Through MyFord Mobile and other features such as SmartGauge® with EcoGuide, data show how driving habits evolve and how electric-only miles rapidly accumulate. After six months of vehicle ownership, nearly 30 percent of all trips are taken gas-free, compared to about 20 percent at the beginning of ownership.
It’s cool that Ford includes a fuel efficiency coach on the dashboard that helps drivers learn how to drive more efficiently, and it’s cool that Ford Energi drivers learn how to drive more electric miles.


What’s striking is the low percentage of electric miles.  GM boasts a much higher percentage of electric miles for the Chevy Volt, and if one looks at you see plenty of Volt owners are achieving 99% electric miles.

Yet, Ford is boasting that Ford Energi owners are getting 30% electric miles.  What gives?

The Ford Energi vehicles have a 20ish mile electric range, while the Volt has a 35-40ish mile electric range.

The issue is that, on average, drivers in the US drive 40 miles, or less, per day.  GM looked at that figure and decided to size the battery pack on the Volt to match average daily driving needs.  Ford, well, they surely looked at that number, but what did they think?  They sized their battery pack for half that range.  They probably wanted to hit a price point that would undercut GM and Toyota prices, and that led them to a smaller pack and therefore smaller MSRP.

With a shorter electric range, the Ford Energi’s will satisfy fewer daily drives on electricity than would the Chevy Volt.

The question is – which is more important?  More plug-in vehicles on the road?  Or a higher ratio of electric miles driven?

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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